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Ariel - The Jellabad Mutant CD (album) cover




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3.29 | 5 ratings

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3 stars This is a collection of demos for an unfinished 'rock opera' Mike Rudd had intended as the follow up to A Strange Fantastic Dream. I presume 'unfinished', since no clear narrative emerges from the collected songs, so I assume more was to come. Being demos, the tracks are recorded very basically, no overdubs other than the vocals, often little more than basic rhythm tracks. However, the tracks show enough promise that a truly excellent progressive album could have been fashioned from them, with more studio time and more time to work on the arrangements. (It's a pity John Mills didn't remain in this lineup of Ariel, because I think his keyboards would have added a lot to this music.) Unfortunately EMI rejected the concept, so these demos are all that remain.

This is pretty much the end of Ariel as a progressive band - the album that followed, Rock & Roll Scars, was a straight hard rock album with little new material, and subsequent Ariel albums followed an increasingly commercial direction.

The CD release is fleshed out by a rare live recording of some of the Jellabad Mutant material from early 1976, by the short-lived three guitar lineup featuring Glyn Mason alongside Rudd and Harvey James. That lineup released just one single, the minor hit "I'll Take You High" and the anti-censorship b-side "I Can't Say What I Mean". Both are also included here as bonus tracks - they point to the more straightforward pop/rock direction Ariel would pursue on the subsequent album Goodnight Fiona.

sl75 | 3/5 |


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